The Return of the Sanctuary

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Tara walked deliberately across the bridge, watching a broken branch drift away in the river. She couldn’t bring herself to look up and ahead.

She felt, as always, the memory of that day painfully searing through the back of her mind. The first time she had tried to return, she had been rigid with fear; the scene had been eerily familiar- the same dry woods, the same crunch of leaves as she trampled over them. The only difference had been she was not rushing to escape.

She hated the then unnamed man for what he had done. It wasn’t just her innocence he had taken. He had stolen her sanctuary, soiled it forever, as she bit her tongue, hoping against hope that none of it was real.

Despite the satisfaction of putting him behind bars, only three years of martial arts and learning how to handle a taser had convinced her to return again.

There had been days, as a child, when she spent her time very differently. Away from Krav Maga classes and the busy pleasures to be found in the city, she had set her own pace, in the midst of trees that she whispered stories to, and squirrels that taunted her, but were impossible to catch. But, now her flashbacks were layered with despair and useless cries for help.

Unable to dwell on unhappy thoughts any longer, she risked glancing up. The woods were different. More green and lush than she had ever seen them, even just after the heavy rains.

The weeds and shrubs were alive with colour, and soft to the touch. They barely made a sound as she gingerly stepped on them, expecting a solid crunch. Every leaf seemed to be telling her that things were different, this time in a good way. But how? Why?

She searched for an explanation and for once, was blissfully denied one by her neurotic mind. The acceptance was more than just logic; it was intuition, and she held on with every inch of her soul.

She faced her favourite tree and knelt before it. Breathing more freely, she could remember the afternoons she had rested against it- reading and losing herself in a different world. It had always cushioned her fall back to reality and it was still there. Running her fingers up the moss, she felt tears of relief leak through her eyes.

Up in the trees, the squirrels twinkled at her.

 

Signed,

The Watchful Redwood

Dear Nostalgia,

Why must you torment me so? You hit me when I, quite frankly, have no time for you, and I always cave- you know I do. You are the bittersweet longing that can never be satisfied, no matter how deep I bury my nose in your depths.

I don’t want to live in the past, even in my happy version of it. It’s far too beautiful and perfect to be real, and I know I’m just fooling myself. Memory is a skilled trickster and has many minions.
Of course, you have plenty of help besides your cousin- so many dangerous triggers quite apart from childhood anecdotes that are brought up during conversation.

Usually, when I revisit old favourite TV shows, songs, scents, and whatnot, I find myself still enamoured by them, notwithstanding obvious bias. Sometimes, I’m overwhelmed by a sense of despair and I wonder…Why did I expose myself to such things at such a crucial time in my life?

But, let’s face it, I barely had a chance. As a kid, everything in the world is in a race to get to you first, to win the privilege of shaping you, your personality, and your life. To claim the right to dictate your future likes and dislikes forevermore, even indirectly.

For such reasons, I obviously can’t despise you without despising who and what I am today, and contrary to what some people might believe, I have a healthy ego. Self-deprecation is just too fun to sacrifice is all. I know, I’m an expert at deviation. I blame the somewhat forced eclecticism I gained as a child.

Sincerely,                                                                                                                         Always Anna

“Nostalgia was better in the old days.”- a T-shirt

A Letter by “A Little Princess”

Foreword

“A Little Princess” was one of my favourite books growing up. Right alongside “The Secret Garden” and “Little Lord Fauntleroy”. Frances Hodgson Burnett’s honest, adorable style of writing just spoke to my heart. This letter is a tribute to her, and lost innocence.

Background

For those who haven’t read the novel(yet!), all you need to know is:

The story is about Sara Crewe, a young girl, whose father is a soldier stationed in India. She is sent to London for a formal education and handles the sudden change with maturity beyond her years. Emily is her doll.

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Dear Papa,

I have been talking to Emily about you. I told her all about our last conversation together. She had to stop herself from smiling, or her secret would have been out.

But I know she listens. Her eyes tell me she does. So now even she carries you in her heart, and makes sure I don’t miss you too much.

You might think Emily is my only companion. She is certainly more than a doll. But, I have made two close friends who can talk in my presence(Emily can’t afford to break the rules or she would no longer be a doll).

Ermengarde is a lovely girl whom I met on the first day, after French class. Don’t worry, Papa. I explained that I didn’t need to take French.

I am helping Ermie with her lessons. There are few things I enjoy more than telling her stories about the French Revolution and the Bastille, to help her remember. Her eyes light up and when she does well in class I feel so proud. There is also something satisfying in helping someone, a friend. She is very sweet and lends me books that her papa sends her.

I have also adopted a small girl called Lottie. She likes yelling, which makes Miss Minchin angry. She doesn’t listen to anyone who tries to calm her down except me. I think it’s because I know the kind of stories she likes.

Thank you for Mariette, Papa. I like her very much and I think she likes me. I have started to do some things by myself so she doesn’t have too much trouble.

I think of you often and fondly remember our home with all the wonderful memories. Then I imagine you being brave on the field and know that I can manage being away from you.

Love,
Your little missus

Friends Across Seas

The characters portrayed in the following work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Except maybe you, C.

Dear Kylara,
I’ve missed your legendary impatience these past few months. No one else can quite keep pace with me.

How’s life in Spain treating you? We have holidays right now. Nope, didn’t mean to rub that in. I wouldn’t mind if you raced back to yell at me in person. I’m not the only one who would like that. Starin misses his daily tummy scratcher. I can never seem to find his tickle spot. I was thinking about the time we snuck him and ourselves into the club pool after hours. The weather over here is certainly making me want to do that again.

Your mother told me about how you were finding it difficult to find vegan food in Granada, so I’m sending a few packages of ready-to-make Quinoa. Now you can live off something besides tapas. They’re easy to make. I promise. I don’t want you cursing me with a pan in hand- just as much for your sake as mine.

You know something strange? I can feel your presence hanging around every time I visit our favorite park. I told you we didn’t have to carve your initials into a tree for that to happen.
Can’t wait to hear about your adventures abroad.

Sincerely,
Ari